PD-L1, B7-H3, and PD-1 expression in immunocompetent vs. immunosuppressed patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Vinod Varki, Olga B. Ioffe, Soren M. Bentzen, Jon Heath, Ashley Cellini, Josephine Feliciano, Dan P. Zandberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To characterize the expression of co-signaling molecules PD-L1, PD-1, and B7-H3 in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) by immune status. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 66 cases of cSCC treated with surgical resection from 2012 to 2015. Immunostained tumor sections were analyzed for percent of tumor cells expressing PD-L1 (Tum-PD-L1%), B7-H3 (Tum-B7-H3%), density of peri and intratumoral CD8 T cells (CD8 density), proportion of CD8 T cells expressing PD-1 (CD8-PD-1%) and of tumor-infiltrating immune cells (TII) expressing PD-L1 (TII-PD-L1%). Results: Of 66 cases, 42 were immunocompetent, 24 immunosuppressed (13 organ transplant, 8 HIV+, 3 other). Defining positive expression at > 5%, 26% of tumors were positive for PD-L1, 85% for B7-H3, 80% had CD8 T cells that expressed PD-1 and 55% had TII that expressed PD-L1. Tum-B7-H3% was significantly higher (median 60 vs. 28%, p = 0.025) in immunocompetent vs. immunosuppressed patients, including when factoring in cause of immunosuppression. No significant difference in Tum-PD-L1%, TII-PD-L1%, CD8 density, or CD8-PD-1% was observed. Tumors from HIV+ patients lacked PD-L1 expression, and had lower B7-H3% (median 2.5 vs. 60%, p = 0.007), and higher CD8 density (median 75% vs. 40%, p = 0.04) compared to immunocompetent patients. Higher tumor grade (Rs = 0.34, p = 0.006) and LVI (Rs = 0.61, p < 0.001) were both associated with higher Tum-PD-L1%. Conclusion: cSCC showed expression of PD-L1 on tumor in 26% of cases, and high tumor B7-H3 expression (85%) and PD-1 expression on CD8 TILs (80%). Tumor B7-H3 expression was significantly higher in immunocompetent vs. immunosuppressed patients, largely driven by very low expression in HIV+ patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
StateAccepted/In press - Feb 27 2018


  • B7-H3
  • Cutaneous
  • PD-1
  • PD-L1
  • Squamous cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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